Adioses Agridulces

It's coming down to the end of my stay in Granada. Today was the last morning of teaching at the hotel, and this afternoon I'll be on a ferry to an island of big volcanoes in Lake Nicaragua. Even though the days were slow and hazy, the whole of this month has really flown by. I packed my (somehow heavier) backpacks, and I'll be heading out with a grateful heart.

Casa Lucia Granada Nicaragua

I never want this page to be somewhere where I only tell you the rosy side of things and leave out the parts that don't fit with that view, so I want you to know that I'm leaving Granada with some mixed reviews, and I feel ready to move on to other parts of the country. I loved being here to work; my first time teaching yoga internationally truly blew me away. The guests were kind, interesting, and into the classes. Eloisa and Danilo were so helpful and accommodating; they made it easy to feel at home around the house and the hotel, right from the beginning. And the hotel-- wow! I can definitely recommend somewhere to stay if you're ever looking to treat yourself well in Central America.

Granada and its surroundings are gorgeous and very easy to get around. I was surprised at the amount of activities there were to do, because, before I got here, I had worried about spending a whole month in a small city where almost everything is in walking distance. Eloisa knew that we traveling yogis are the roaming type, so she usually recommends that teachers only sign on for a month at a time. That made me a little nervous, but I definitely felt that there were enough new things to maintain my adventurous spirit during the time I was here.

Yoga class at Casa Lucia Granada

The only complaint that I kept coming back to day after day, or really every time that I left the house, was that the catcalling got old pretty fast, and it was hard not to let it spoil things for me. Granada is a safe city, and I'm sure there are plenty of women who will say they felt perfectly fine traveling alone here or that it's all just another part of the culture, but I quickly grew tired of getting whistled, hissed, or blown kisses at whenever I stepped out the door, and that men ages 13-80 would make comments whenever I passed by them. One girl told me she tried to take them as compliments or was able to ignore them. Unfortunately, it made me uncomfortable being on my own, and it kept me from taking day trips to nearby markets or, I felt, from fully experiencing the local culture. After about two weeks, I started spending longer hours in cafes, the touristy ones, with the wifi and organic fruit bowls, where I wouldn't stand out so much. I got a lot of reading done and the smoothies were always delicious, but I normally love walking around as a way to get to know a city, and my discomfort kept me pretty sedentary here.


On the other hand, I wouldn't want that impression to discourage anyone from visiting Granada. The discomfort didn't really start to put me in a sour mood until the second half of my visit, and I don't think a short-term visitor would be as bothered by it since they wouldn't have to hear aggressive remarks at 7am on their walk to work or on a sweaty haul back from the grocery store. I still think Granada is a marvelous place that is not to be missed, and I hope more Americans come down to see it soon because the Canadians have been arriving in droves. I am so thankful for the job here and the graciousness of the people I met, and I'll bet plenty of foreigners visiting the US have felt uncomfortable for some reason or another. And I can tell you where to get any type of refreshing mixed fruit concoction as soon as you step out of the cab here. So, ya know, mixed feelings!

Christmas at Casa Lucia

"Are you sad to be spending Christmas away from home?" Everyone has asked me since I found out I'd be spending December here. And yes, of course I'm a little sad! Of course I would rather be at home hanging out with my family! I love my family! My family is awesome! I miss them!

Christmas in Granada, Nicaragua

But you know, getting a job teaching one of your favorite things in a pretty cool place doesn't come around every month, so even when I found out that month was going to be enveloping December 25th, I had to say yes. It's my first time being away from home at this time of year, but it makes me happy to be in a country where the holidays are a pretty big deal. I still get to see lights, Christmas trees, and other decorations in the streets. Eloisa and Danilo have added some sweet little touches around the hotel, too.

I'd always rather be spending Christmas Eve and Day eating pierogi, watching A Christmas Story six times, and catching up with the loved ones I don't get to see very often, but the rest of the month hasn't been so bad. We're working by the pool and playing in the sun-- if it weren't for the ornaments, we might not have known it was winter at all!

Isletas de Granada

It took me a tiny while, but I finally made it to one of the most visited items on the to-do list here... the Isletas de Granada. I didn't know much about this before I showed up, but Granada has 365 tiny islands resting right off its shores in Lake Nicaragua, and you can tour around them by boat or by kayak.

I had wanted to visit the islands since the first day, but everyone told me that the guides won't go out for just one person. Unfortunately, the friends I've made here have either been leaving the next day or long-time retired residents, so I was on my own. I decided to walk down to the office to find out if I could sign up with another group that afternoon. I got there there just in time. There was a kayaking group leaving immediately, so they packed me into the van and we set out on our way.

Kayaking the Isletas de Granada

It was a short drive down to the dock, and then we spent the next 3 hours kayaking all around the islands to see different types of birds, plant life, and howler monkeys! The rest of the day unfolded perfectly. We found ourselves paddling back with the view of sunset over Mombacho Volcano.

Sunset over Mombacho Volcano

I didn't have a preference at first, since I really do not have the hang of kayaking no matter how many times I try, but I was so glad to have been roped into a kayak tour instead of the boat. The water was peaceful and still as we made our way out in between lily pads and flowers. And although the wind made things quite choppy on the way back, the view was enough to keep us moving in our return journey.

Boats on Lake Nicaragua

Amigos de Austin

I traveled to a whole different part of the world and where do you think the first estadounidense I met was from? No place other than Austin, Texas! Yee-haw!

Sara is super nice and welcoming. She moved down here to start a bakery and a pizzeria. What a fine place to do just that. Pan de Vida is a relaxed respite off busy La Calazada street with great pizza, plenty of hammocks, and cinnamon rolls that I am not going to say whether or not could come close to my grandma's because sometimes she reads this! You'll have to try them for yourself.

Pan de Vida Granada, Nicaragua

I'm glad to have met Sara early in the trip, because she told me an easy way to remember the money exchange rate when I kept forgetting which ones were from Asia and which one was for here. The next day that knowledge saved me when the street converter tried to rip me off 200 cordoba. But all I had to do was correct him and he gave me the difference plus a little more. Sometimes it really pays to talk to strangers.

Pan de Vida in Granada, Nicaragua